- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 13, 2012

The past four years have taken a serious toll on the “united” part of the United States: “There has been an across the board rise in the number of people saying that the country is more politically divided than it was in the past. Currently, 80 percent view the country as more politically divided — the highest percentage ever in a Pew Research Center survey,” Pew researchers report.

When President Obama took office in January 2009, that number was 46 percent. For once, there’s no partisan divide: 81 percent of Republicans and 82 percent of Democarts agree that the nation is more politically divided. It’s also getting personal.

Six out of 10 Americans say people they know also are more politically divided, a finding that has jumped by 13 percentage points since Mr. Obama’s inauguration. And the parties are crabby: 67 percent of Republicans and 58 percent of Democrats also say their acquaintances are “more divided over politics than in the past.”

FOXIFIED

There is simply no escaping the power of Fox News. The network is the most-watched cable news channel among total viewers and among that coveted audience of adults ages 24 to 54 for the 11th consecutive year, according to Nielsen Media Research. In prime time, Fox News drew an average of 2.071 million viewers, up by 11 percent in the past year; CNN averaged 670,000 viewers; and MSNBC 913,000 in the time period.

Fox rounds out the year with the top 11 programs in total viewership, Nielsen numbers reveal. The big winners: “The O’Reilly Factor” was in first place, drawing nearly 3 million viewers a night, followed by “Hannity” (2.3 million); “Special Report With Bret Baier” (1.9 million); “On the Record With Greta Van Susteren” (1.9 million) and “The Five” (1.8 million).

RHYME AND REASON

“The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, in hopes that a tax plan soon would be there.

“The holiday treats were stale and bland, after Mrs. Obama had sugar plums banned.

“The president was sleeping — for the hour was late, he was tired and groggy, like the Denver debate.

“He dreamed of the year and his bruising campaign, Romney was tougher, it seems, than McCain.”

- (Excerpt from ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas: 2012 White House Press Basement Version” by Salem Radio News correspondent Greg Clugston, who has penned similar parody verses each year since 1998.)

SKINNY CITY

Nanny mayors: What works for the Big Apple works for the Windy City, apparently. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has borrowed a big fat page out of New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s playbook. Mr. Emanuel plans to ban most high-calorie goodies from city vending machines. Only a quarter will offer drinks that contain 25 calories or more per 8 ounces, and they’ll be limited to 12-ounce containers. And forget comforting lattes: No hot drinks can contain high-calorie ingredients.

“These new vending machines will make it easier than ever before for city employees and the public to make healthy lifestyle decisions. When city employees take their wellness into their own hands, we can reduce health care costs and also serve as a model for the residents of Chicago,” Mr. Emanuel said in his proposal to local officials.

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